Bainbridge Historic District
The Bainbridge Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document.  Adaptation copyright © 2009, The Gombach Group.
The Bainbridge Historic District is comprised of over 100 properties located primarily on North and West Main Streets and Park Place. Contiguous properties on Juliand, Kirby, Pearl, South Main and East Main Streets and Railroad Avenue are also included. In terms of architectural character and land use, there are four sections to the district: the park and environs, the commercial district, the North Main Street neighborhood, and the West Main Street residential area. The Bainbridge Historic District boundary encompasses the village's most intensive concentration of historically and architecturally significant properties. Excluded from the district are areas of modern commercial development, such as the west corner of the main crossroads and the supermarket at 47-51 North Main Street, as well as older residential neighborhoods where historic buildings have lost their integrity of design, materials and workmanship because of inappropriate alterations.
The focal point of the village and the core of the Bainbridge Historic District is the village green, a landscaped park ornamented with a Victorian bandstand, carved stone memorials, and a cast-iron fountain. Two historic churches face the green: to the southeast is the Federal style Presbyterian Church with a two-stage octagonal belfry; southwest of the park is St. Peter's Episcopal Church which retains its Gothic windows despite unsympathetic alterations to the facade and belfry. The cemetery, set off by an iron fence and a lich gate, faces the southern corner of the green. The Baptist Church, facing the green across South Main Street, at one time contributed to this historic grouping, but alterations to the church and replacement of neighboring commercial properties have compromised the visual integrity to the extent that it has been excluded from the historic district. On the east side of South Main Street a small group of 19th century residences which have retained their integrity is included in the Bainbridge Historic District. The most prominent of these is St. Peter's rectory, a steep-gabled Carpenter Gothic style cottage at the corner of Park Place and South Main Street. Although most of the residences on East Main Street have lost the integrity of their original designs, one is included in the Bainbridge Historic District — 5 East Main Street, an intact vernacular dwelling of the Civil War period, distinguished by an L-shaped porch with elongated Tudor arches at the porch eaves.
The commercial district occupies the first block of North Main Street and the north side of West Main Street. At one time the southwest corner of the crossroads contributed to the historic commercial area, but modern development and a series of disasters have irreversibly altered that area; therefore, it is excluded from the Bainbridge Historic District. The commercial area extends west to the railroad, where the depots and two recycled industrial buildings impart a distinctive industrial ambience. A small telephone switching station at the corner of Railroad Avenue and West Main Street is the only non-contributing structure in this area. Most of the buildings in the commercial district are attached brick blocks, two or three stories high with large expanses of plate glass in the first-story shop fronts. They display a variety of cornice detail including wood and iron brackets and brick corbelling. Although many storefronts have been altered over the years, a number do remain intact: the tiny facade at 15 West Main Street is an excellent example. Contrasting markedly with the serried brick fronts elsewhere in the commercial district is 4 North Main Street, a two-and-a-half story frame building whose extended roof forms a two-story portico fronting on North Main Street. It is the oldest commercial building in the village but displays a century and a half of additions and alterations. Another notable building is the neoclassical Bainbridge Town Hall (15 North Main Street), which houses the village library, government offices, and an upstairs theater.
North of the commercial area, North Main Street is primarily residential, with only occasional intrusive commercial structures. The changing character of the street is embodied in 26 North Main Street, a mid-nineteenth century house with an intrusive commercial addition to the front. Across the street, the notable brick and shingle Methodist Church marks the transition from commercial to residential neighborhood. Although relatively modest in design, the houses in this neighborhood represent a full range of nineteenth and twentieth century architectural influences. Among them are examples of some styles that are rare in the village, such as the Gothic cottage at 4 Evans Street and the Bungalow at 61 North Main Street. However, most North Main Street residences are well-preserved examples of common forms: many of the older houses are 2-story, 3-bay, gable front houses with classical detailing, such as 50 North Main Street. Number 77 North Main Street, one of the few brick houses on the street, is a particularly good example of another common building form, the flat-roofed Italianate type. The triple house at 6-10 Johnson Street shows how this style could be adapted for simple, worker housing. Several of the houses on the west side of the street are steep-gabled L-shaped houses from the 1880's, such as 68 North Main Street and 86 North Main Street, the last house in the district. The edge of the Bainbridge Historic District on the east side of the street is marked by an impressive late Federal period farmhouse with Colonial Revival style portico, set back from the road on a long driveway lined with huge maple trees. Because North Main Street is a major state highway, the area is dotted with non-contributing gas stations (35, 42 and 65 North Main Street). The Mission style gas station at 35 North Main is a contributing structure, due to its integrity and the rarity of this style in the area. A large supermarket at 47-53 North Main Street is excluded from the historic district. It is set at a substantial distance from the street and thus does not severely compromise the historic streetscape.
The West Main Street neighborhood is one of the oldest and most prestigious residential areas in the village. The houses are predominantly large, two-story frame structures set on spacious lots along tree-lined streets. Architectural design ranges from the Federal style cottage at 50 West Main Street through various nineteenth-century revival styles, to the Bungalow at 45 West Main Street. The Victorian eclectic styles, exemplified by Stick style houses at 47, 54 and 56 West Main Street and the turreted Queen Anne style houses at 41 and 60 West Main, are numerically predominant. However there are complemented by notable examples of other styles: the Federal style Juliand house which marks the western edge of the district; the Greek Revival style Danforth house at 51 West Main; the Gothic cottage at 2 Juliand Street, and the High Victorian Gothic house at 44 West Main, complete with roof cresting. Well-preserved historic houses on contiguous streets — Juliand, Kirby and Pearl — have also been included within the Bainbridge Historic District boundary although buildings on these streets are generally of lesser architectural quality and integrity than those on the main street.
The Bainbridge Historic District is significant both for the quality of its historic architecture and as a reflection of the village's historical development. A frontier outpost in the late eighteenth century, the hamlet developed into a major center for trade and transportation during the period of intense western migration in the early nineteenth century. Two entrepreneurs, Baron de Zeng and Colonel Richard Juliand, were very important in promoting this early development, leaving their mark on the architecture and institutions of the village. The beautiful village green and the handsome frame churches which border it clearly reflect the prosperity of this period and the New England origins of the early settlers. In the later nineteenth century, as the surrounding region turned to dairy farming, village business, industry, and institutions developed to serve the dairy industry. Most of Bainbridge's commercial buildings were constructed during this post-Civil War period of expansion. As the population grew, new residential streets were established, and new houses filled in between the earliest one. Thus, houses in the Bainbridge Historic District represent a full range of nineteenth and early twentieth century domestic architectural styles. Modern growth in the community has brought new residential developments and has severely altered one portion of the village core, but the Bainbridge Historic District retains the integrity of its historic origins with very few intrusions.
In 1817, Colonel Richard W. Juliand arrived in Bainbridge from Greene, where Juliands were the leading family. He bought the property at the corner of North and West Main Streets where a tavern had stood since 1793, and from there operated an extensive fleet of stages over the Esopus-Susquehanna and Bath Turnpike. In 1827, he purchased Baron de Zeng's fine Federal style farmhouse at 64 West Main Street. This house and the tavern (now called the Olde Jericho Inn), are still leading landmarks in Bainbridge and reminders of Juliand's influence. Where de Zeng had been responsible for establishing the village and its first trade prosperity, Juliand helped to found the institutions and attract the industries which brought about Bainbridge's later growth. In 1829, the village was incorporated and Richard W. Juliand was elected as the first president.
The village plan was well established by this date, with industries along the river and Newton Creek, residences along the Main Streets and smaller cross streets, and commercial development at the crossroads. Little remains of the early industrial development, and the commercial area has changed substantially, but many of today's public and residential buildings date from this pre-Civil War development. After the burning of the meetinghouse, an attempt was made to nullify the gift of the common, but public fervor to retain it prevailed. It became and remained the center of village activity. St. Peter's Episcopal Church was built on the south side of the common in 1826, and in 1831, the Presbyterians built a new church on the east side. The common was used first as a public pound, then as a drill ground for the local militia and still later became the village ball field. It was first laid out as a park in 1875, but suffered from neglect. A handsome pagoda was added in 1891 (moved 1904). In 1901 the Congregational Society deeded the park portion of their lot to the village. A fountain, benches, lights and the Civil War monument were donated by interested citizens. Today the village green, bordered by early churches, a cemetery, and busy commercial streets, remains the heart of the village and continues to reflect the historic development of the area.
The most significant early residence in the village is the de Zeng/Juliand house, which marks the northwestern corner of the historic district. Until almost the end of the century, this Federal style house stood alone on its block overlooking the village from its wooded hillside. Along West Main Street nearer to the crossroads were a few houses in the Federal and Greek Revival styles.
North Main Street also displays many early residences. Dr. Freiot's large Georgian house, set well back from the road on a driveway lined with maples, marked the edge of the village in the mid-nineteenth century. Nearer to the village center are many smaller frame houses from this early development. Although distinguished by a variety of simple details — fanlights, friezes, denticulation, porticos — many of the houses are similar in form: 2-story gable-roofed houses, the 3-bay wide gable end facing the street, the door located in the side bay sheltered by a small portico. This vernacular form continued popular throughout the century and was later used for houses built in the Gothic Revival, Italianate and Colonial Revival styles. Of the early commercial development, only the large frame hotel at 4 North Main Street remains. Built in 1805, expanded several times, and moved (fifty feet north) in 1927, this structure continued to reflect its early origins despite many changes.
Lumbering and mixed-crop agriculture were the sustenance of the region for much of the nineteenth century. Small local industries — tanneries, foundries, smithies, tin shops, saw mills and gristmills — served regional agricultural needs, and the only major export was lumber. Gradually, agriculture in the area began to be replaced by dairying. But the dairy industry was hindered by a lack of adequate transportation. The Albany and Susquehanna Railroad was opened from Bainbridge to Albany in 1867 and reached Binghamton two years later. Thus linked to a major northeastern markets, Bainbridge experienced an industrial boom. As the railroad made it feasible to market fluid milk, there was an upsurge in milk production and creameries flourished. Later, new milk-processing businesses located in the village, manufacturing sugars, glue, dried milk, and plastic.
Other areas of light manufacture also developed in the late nineteenth century: The American Separator Company, manufacturing a product used in every farm kitchen, began circa 1880 in a home workshop and was a major Bainbridge employer until the 1950's. Although now deteriorated and adapted for residential use, American Separator's office and part of its factory remain on Railroad Avenue and are included in the Bainbridge Historic District. The simple symmetrical form and many large windows of these buildings reflect their original industrial use. Also on Railroad Avenue are the freight depot and the former passenger station which now serves as the village's police station.
The commercial district took on its present shape in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. In the 1870's and '80's a series of fires destroyed many of the older frame structures near the crossroads and most were rebuilt with locally produced brick. Although many of the storefronts have been altered, the commercial streetscapes retain a high degree of integrity. The residential areas of the village also developed further at this period, with new houses filling in between the old, as well as on new streets on the village outskirts. There are several intact examples of Italianate and Gothic Revival domestic architecture built in the 1800's and '80's, their late date attesting to the fashion lag in this rural area. Most of the new homes were small, modest frame structures. West Main Street between the railroad and Juliand house was the area for big new houses in the Victorian fashion.
Bainbridge continued to prosper until the mid-twentieth century, its industries gradually expanding and new development taking place on the village edge. The older residential streets were filled with additions like the Bungalows at 45 West Main and 61 North Main and the Foursquare house at 65 North Main. Progress and a series of fires have destroyed the historic character of the west corner of the crossroads, an area excluded from the Bainbridge Historic District. Included are intrusive commercial structures at 35 West Main, 35 and 64 North Main and the diner addition to 26 North Main, while the intrusive structure at 47-53 North Main has been excluded from the district. Also excluded is the area east of the crossroads to the river which has lost its historic significance as an industrial area. However, the village core and the two main residential corridors have retained the feeling and associations of the historic village.
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